Swapping out the Swoosh? Nike’s recent ad campaign changes how some Jackson County athletic programs do business


In a meeting between the girls basketball staff, a local athletic director and a distributor of sports apparel and equipment last week, the first words passed among the group were clear and concise.

“I told the (distribution) rep, who handles Nike and Under Armour, that there are to be no more orders for Nike,” Trinity Lutheran High School Athletic Director Andy Denny said. “We are not going to be doing any business with Nike.”

The recent advertisement that has continued debate across the nation to select Colin Kaepernick as the face of an advertisement campaign isn’t just affecting professional and collegiate athletics. Some high schools, including two local ones, are taking stances, too.

“I’m against what is going on,” Denny said. “We do have an order coming in from Nike right now, but that will be it. That will be the last order. There will be no orders from this point on.”

Crothersville Community Schools also plans to phase out Nike products.

Athletic Director Greg Kilgore said in a phone call Monday the school is pretty much in the same place as Trinity, but he did not wish to comment on the Nike campaign.

The Tigers varsity girls basketball team wore new Nike jerseys last year.

Kilgore, a veteran, said Crothersville expects its students to stand during the national anthem and will not tolerate any kneeling by its students. Kneeling during the anthem would result in a meeting with administration officials, Kilgore said, and repercussions would be decided later.

Nike, which had $34.4 billion in revenue in 2017, recently released a controversial ad campaign with Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback who first drew criticism for kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

The message of the campaign is “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” The company unveiled the ad campaign last week.

Kaepernick and numerous NFL athletes have stated they are kneeling to raise awareness of police brutality and social injustice toward African-Americans. Players have said kneeling doesn’t disrespect the anthem, flag or military but brings awareness to an issue.

Many, including President Donald Trump, have criticized Kaepernick and other athletes for kneeling.

Trinity plans on moving away from the famous swoosh, and some other Jackson County high schools also are taking action.

While none of the county schools have contracts obligating them to using the brand, most have bought or used it over the past year.

Denny said he has had a long distaste for the brand before the recent ad campaign because of the company’s involvement in college athletics.

He said he and Principal Clayton Darlage came to the conclusion to phase out Nike gear for Trinity athletic programs.

Prior to the ad, Trinity recently bought new Nike-owned, Jordan-brand uniforms for its girls basketball team. Last year, the Cougars girls basketball team was completely outfitted by Nike.

Due to the cost, Denny said the team will wear them until the next round of purchases commences.

The boys basketball team also wore Jordan-brand jerseys in 2017.

The Cougars volleyball team has worn Nike this fall but has new non-Nike uniforms on the way for the postseason, Denny said.

“From a financial standpoint, we probably need to (use the current jerseys),” Denny said. “When the time comes to replace them, in a two- or three-year time period, we will replace them with Adidas, Under Armour or whomever.

“We are just going to go another route. There is nothing wrong with Adidas or Under Armour. They are good competitors with good quality. We’re not going to limit ourselves to one brand. Neither one has the perfect shoe or uniform. You have to find the perfect fit and that kind of stuff.”

The incoming order will be the last by Nike to Trinity.

The most recent girls basketball order, which included shooting shirts and other new gear, will be Under Armour, Denny said.

He said Trinity lets the coaches and players choose its gear before the administration “rubber stamps” a decision.

There won’t be any kind of repercussions if a student buys any Nike gear and wears it at an event, Denny said.

“There is nothing we can do about it,” he said. “What they can’t do is buy Nike and run it through our books — get reimbursed or a deduction for it. If they want to do that on their own, that is their choice.”

Like many other schools in southern Indiana, Trinity gets most of its gear from Kratz Sporting Goods, based in Clarksville, and BSN Sports, a nationwide distributor. The companies outfit schools and provide them with sporting gear across the area.

“While we were sitting there (in the meeting), (the rep) got a text from one of his customers that they will no longer do Nike,” Denny said. “This is while we were talking, so we are not the only school.”

This week, a pair of colleges announced plans to drop Nike, too.

Truett McConnell University in Georgia and College of the Ozarks in Missouri both announced this week they will no longer use Nike’s products.

Denny said there aren’t any parents who have approached him about the ad campaign.

“I hope so,” Denny said when asked if he thought the parents and fans would agree with the decision. “There are a lot of veterans around here, a lot of good Americans around here.”

At Seymour, several teams use Nike gear. Some wore both shoes and jerseys during the 2017-18 school year, and a few teams are using Nike this fall.

Seymour High School Athletic Director Kirk Manns said in a phone call Wednesday the school has not discussed making any changes due to the recent ad campaign.

Brownstown Central High School Athletic Director Mark DeHart said he doesn’t believe they have any Nike uniforms, but some teams likely have some gear. The school gets most of its equipment from Kratz since there is a Brownstown native who works for the company. Kratz is a big Adidas distributor.

“We do a lot of things through Kratz. Jim Brown is a graduate from Brownstown,” DeHart said. “We have a really good relationship with them. We never have to worry about if they will give us a good price or not. We do order some things online and through other companies if we can find it cheaper and is of the same quality.”

DeHart echoed Seymour’s response that the school will buy what is best for its student-athletes.

“At this time, we will continue to purchase our equipment as we have in the past, according to what best meets our coaches/athletes needs relative to quality and affordability,” DeHart said.

Medora Community Schools Athletic Director Brad McCammon said the school doesn’t have anything Nike. He said they have gotten everything they’ve needed through Kratz for the past 30 years.

No posts to display